I was told that being in one’s 30’s is one of best phases in the life of a girl. Back then, my 30’s seemed too distant to contend with. I was making resolutions for when I hit 25 (party less, eat more spinach, more focus etc.).Age 25 zipped by and now that I am well in my 30’s, I can say with confidence that it is indeed the best phase thus far.
I have lived enough to look back at great experiences, to look ahead with the confidence that I know myself a lot better and to share with others some essential life nuggets while I am still young enough to remember them and while they are still relevant.
The fact that I have had two careers, adventurous ones at that, has offered me a front row seat to growing up fast and in the public eye. During my first career as a model, during what I term as Indian fashion’s belle époque, I learnt the craft amongst some of the finest creative minds in the field today. Those were the days of the first fashion weeks, India’s super success in international pageants and the entry of global fashion magazines.
My second career was as entrepreneur, setting up one of India’s foremost talent agencies, Globosport, managing the careers of actors, athletes and models. It taught me much that holds me in good stead today as I spend my working life in the challenging corporate world.
My life has taught me some good lessons and some painful ones and all quite vital for any modern Indian girl. They touch upon common everyday dilemmas of what to wear or how to entertain better to life’s bigger challenges such as contending with a loss or a broken relationship or controlling parents.
Growing up in a fairly open minded South Indian middle class home, I was lucky to have one leg on a modern path - one that would allow me to take up any vocation when I finished college, live on my own, travel to far off places and choose my life partner while my other leg couldn’t shake off all those years of a traditional Indian upbringing in a city like Chennai and its expectations on a daughter.
I spent years not knowing how to reconcile these two paths and was engulfed in the confusion of how exactly to tread the modern/traditional fault line while still having an identity that made sense to me and the society I lived in, I realised today that I actually had the best of both worlds.
My “double” life gave me the opportunity to touch the clouds while my feet still remained on the ground.
There are tremendous advantages to having an Indian upbringing and a global outlook, be it in outward style or in inner character. One only has to figure out which parts of which side to keep!
The columns that will follow this brief hello are meant to be little titbits of insight into the various balls that we modern Indian girls juggle, and are based on what I believe are common experiences and struggles of modern Indian girls everywhere. I see them as some guiding lights that have helped me and will hopefully help you too. I like to think of it as the modern Indian Girl’s guide.
Shvetha Jaishankar is a connoisseur of the fine things in life, an experimenter, and an idealist. Starting her career as a top-notch international model Shvetha has in the past few years managed to collect a full-time MBA degree from ISB, Hyderabad, travelled the world, been an entrepreneur and read copiously while also working on the many other things she hopes to accomplish.